Written by Luther Tittle about 1973
Courtesy of Billie Fortenberry and Vicky Dean
All accounts herein written by myself are things I can remember of Haleyville. Other than some told to me that reach back before my birth in 1903. Although I was born in Corinth, Miss, at my grandmother's home while my family was visiting there, I have resided 69 years in Haleyville at this writing, except for a brief four years in Birmingham and then I worked on the railroad and stayed part of my time in Haleyville. Some people will probably want to disagree with some of the accounts, but everything I tell herein is from my remembrance of them. You all know you can picture in your mind things more vivid that happened in your childhood easier than in later life. If I repeat myself on further in this account it is to bring out more information and facts. None is meant to cause any embarrassment or malice to anyone and if I am in error, I’m willing to correct same. The historical part is my only purpose.
I can recall living at what was at that time known as Miller’s Stand. That was in south Haleyville at what is known at this writing as the Tom Finley place high upon the bank of the I.C. Railroad. That was before the I.C. was finished into Haleyville. We lived in a cemetery in an old log house; the cemetery still remains. There was even a grave under the house and one was dug up and the corpse moved to another place when the railroad came in. That is where I learned to walk and talk. I can remember Mr. Gordon (father of the late Ab and Thad Gordon) walking to town past our house and would invite me to go to town with him. Of course I was too small to make the hike. I really wanted to as he told me he would buy me some candy. Later we lived in a two room shack near Hillcrest Cemetery and I recall several happenings there. When I was 3 one of my uncles "toted" me to Bill Mayhall’s store (the building still standing now next to Kelly’s Garage) and fitted and bought me a pair of shoes. But before that time my grandfather and grandmother on my mother’s side lived in a house next to Drewry’s Office Building near Hollis Miller’s home. It has been remodeled since and part of it still stands. Of course the office building mentioned and the Miller home was not there at that time. I do remember the old house as it was built originally after I was older. My mother worked in fields of cotton and corn. Her father cultivated all around from the home and north of 21st where the W.W. Haley home was built (now burned down). My grandfather sold W.W. Haley his property out of some 300 or 400 acres, I would estimate, all laying on the north side of Ward Avenue and 21st street at the present day. My grandfather named W.E. (Bill) Patterson bought the land from Bucky Davis who had homesteaded it from the U.S. Government. My grandfather ran the first blacksmith shop near where Whitworth’s Shop still stands at this writing.
Buildings and Industries:
The I.C. Railroad connected their line from Chicago to the Northern Alabama (now Southern) Railroad at the block office. About 1908 it was completed and trains began to operate through to Birmingham. That brought many new people to Haleyville and the town boomed. A new high school was built. Many new homes were built. The Mineral Springs Hotel was erected to accommodate workers for the railroad. Also others come here and put up at the hotel to drink the water from Mineral Spring. (I believe this spring still exists.) That was before auto days and the street, now 8th avenue south from 19th street was popular, especially on Sunday afternoon. Uncle Joe Cleere brother of once postmaster Will Cleere built a wooden platform near the spring with benches to sit on. The Haleyville Band would play music on Sunday afternoons and people would sit around and listen. The Northern Alabama Railroad operated 2 passenger trains each way every day from Sheffield to Parrish, connecting to a Southern train on to Birmingham. Uncle Joe Cleere lived at then Cleere Hotel, a wooden two-story structure near the depot operated by Mrs. Cleere, wife of postmaster Will Cleere. The first post office I recall was on the corner of 8th avenue and 19th street and Newman Freeman (brother-in-law of the late Mrs. C.C. Burdette) Mrs. Burdette worked in the post office. Later the U.S. Government operated a whiskey dispensary there. Afterward the post office moved to the Haley building. This was along about 1907 or 1908 I believe. Prior to that open saloons operated in Haleyville but was voted out. Later the law was changed and the only liquor available was moonshine except some legally shipped in mostly from Cairo, Illinois or Phoenix City, Alabama, which had a legal distillery. In 1918 the whole U.S. voted "dry." That set the moonshiners up in business. Cotton was the main crop in those days which was hauled in by wagons and mostly mules. Some oxen were used then. Haleyville also developed a Cross ties (for railroad tracks) market and that gave the farmers some cash in the off season. I’ve seen the city square (triangle) covered with wagons of cotton in the fall where buyers sampled and bid on the cotton. There were three or four cotton gins in the town limits at one time or another. I’ve seen CrossTies stacked in every available space near the railroads and men loaded them by hand only. The late mayor V.H. Albright can attest to this, as he was a buyer when it was in full bloom. Then the auto began to make its appearance. There were several different makes but the Model T proved to be more abundant. The first auto I remember was a high wheel (something like three and a half feet in diameter) that belonged to Dr. Lee M.D. who I think built and lived in the Youth Center building of First Baptist Church just north of the present City Hall. Dr. Olivet and Dr. Howell also had Model Ts, one a roadster and one a coupe.
As to streets they were all dirt, later gravel top and sometime in the late 1920s, Main Street was paved with concrete (mixed by muscle power, man power, and wheelbarrow). I believe the first paving reached from the Northern Alabama Railroad on 20th Street to about 10th Avenue and north from 20th street to near the Methodist Church on 9th Avenue north. We had concrete sidewalks at various places. Before the paving the streets would get in terrible conditions, especially in winter time. I’ve seen autos stuck right in main town. Someone trying to play a joke (I never knew who) put a sign on a stake in the worst place saying NO FISHING and roused the ire of the city officials, whoever they were at that time. I remember when all the buildings burned across the railroad tracks up to the old wooden Cleere Hotel. It was the Blanton-Curtis Mercantile Company and Haleyville’s first bank to my knowledge set next to the hotel also burned. After that the New Bank was built on 20th Street where it operated until moving about 1950 or 1952 to its present location. I also remember the building built of tin where the present Feldman Department Store is. This building there now was built in 1911. Getting back to the streets there was a sandbed along 20th Street in front of the old torn down City Hall and quite a little uphill to near Rayburn’s Furniture Company and many farmers would rest their mules at the foot of the hill if they had a heavy load of CrossTies before starting up the hill. I’ve seen carnivals (shows) strung out along Main Street. From Alabama Power Company office to 11th Avenue using the (20th) street as a midway with shows on the vacant lots with concessions along the dirt and concrete sidewalks. During the day farmers would drive through the midway with their loads of cotton and CrossTies etc. A skating rink once operated where Sinclair Service Station now stands. It was in a tent and stayed there about a year. That was along about 1928 or 1929.
Haleyville once had a rat epidemic. First large gophers then regular old wharf rats. They were brought into town in boxcars and got started. Merchants lost hundreds and thousands of dollars to them. They would get into the stores and destroy merchandise overnight, enough to kill the store owner’s profit next day. J. H. Gentle ran a grist mill in an old tin building on the corner of 9th Avenue and 19th Street where Northwest Alabamian now is published. They literally undermined the building. They had tunnels all over town. The merchants had to build platforms and hang them to the ceiling by wire to stack their flour on. But still they cut into other goods such as pasteboard packages of all sorts. The merchants were helpless. At first people began to get Rat Terrier dogs, then Fox Terriers. It seemed to me the Fox Terriers were more aggressive and helped relieve the situation some. Then later the city began to poison the rats and in a very few years the rats were wiped out for good.
Jails and Policemen:
The first jail I remember was a one-room log building on 9th Avenue south of 18th Street near Feldman’s residence. Some of the first policemen were Jeff Blanton, also Hiram Lovelady father of Mrs. Minnie Kimbrell. The Lovelady’s lived on the corner of 11th Avenue across from the New State National Bank. Later a jail was built near Haleyville Lumber and Supply Company. Some of the police chiefs were Dan Clay, Mr. Dees, who had a photo shop where "Sherman’s" store now is. They only had one police then, who only worked day and late until everyone went home which was very early. Sometimes they would hire an extra police for duty when a circus or carnival came to town. One of these I remember was Dilmus Crumpton. I’ve crawled under the Big Top when he was out of sight, and if none of the circus employees were near, I saw the circus. I never got put out and really enjoyed the acts. Some of the other police chiefs were Tom Burns, Berry Shedd, and Epson Millican.
Lumber and Supply Business:
The first Lumber and Supply business that I recall was at the present sight of Haleyville Lumber and Supply Company, now operated by Cecil Pulliam. Richardson Lumber Company of Florence, Alabama, ran the lumber yard and had a large shed for lumber and office. Mr. W. L. Hughes worked for them and later bought out the business. Later as Mr. Hughes’ health began to fail he sold out to Tom Edgil and Lacy Brakefield of Jasper. That was during the depression of the 1930s. They and their families moved to Haleyville and lived for years. The Brakefield’s finally sold their part and moved back to Jasper. Tom Edgil stayed on and his brother-in-law worked for him. Tom then bought a lumber business in Decatur and the Edgil’s moved over there. John Coates brother of Mrs. Edgil took over the business and later bought it out, along with Ray Nash. They had interests in several planing mills during the World War II when lumber was at a high price. Mr. Pulliam then bought the business with his partner Ben Little. Ben later sold his part to Pulliam and moved to Winfield. To this day, Mr. Hughes’ favorite chair he sat in his office is preserved by Cecil Pulliam. I’ve seen him many the time strike a match on the arm of the chair to light his pipe, while I was still a boy. The arm has a groove worn out in it from the striking of the matches. The chair must be close to seventy years or maybe older.
The first telephone switch board, that I recall was upstairs in a wooden building where the Dixie Theater now stands close beside Top Dollar stores. It was owned and operated by R. S. M. Wright who had a one wire ground circuit that just about went across Winston County, also south to Natural Bridge. As a young man I worked some for Mr. Wright climbing the telephone poles helping make repairs. I would go with him all over the lines in a T-Model car. He would pay me about 25 or 50 cents a day. Sometimes the line would get broken to Natural Bridge, and I would catch the morning train and ride to Natural Bridge and walk it out to Haleyville and repair it. The line ran about where the highway now runs. J. C. Johnson, an I.C. Railroad engineer, later put in a system over the present Burleson Store in the Haley building. His system was all metallic or two wire circuit. He also built to Double Springs and later bought out Mr. Wright. I remember when World War I, near its end, news come in a few days premature and everybody turned out with pistols and shotguns to celebrate and someone accidentally shot a cable in two at the corner of 20th and 9th Avenue north. Seems Mr. Johnson worked a month getting it repaired. Later, Alabama Telephone Company bought out Mr. Johnson’s system and now has an up to date system.
The first banks I remember was across the railroad tracks just south of Blanton-Curtis Mercantile Company and north of Cleere Hotel. It was burned along with the other buildings about 1909 or 1910. It was the Traders and Farmers Bank. The Haley’s (Walker and Charlie) started this bank. I suppose, after the fire a new building was erected at the site and still stands just west of the present Traders and Farmers Bank. The Tennessee Valley Bank (now reorganized and is State National) started in a rock building that still stands at this writing on the corner of 8th Avenue and 19th Street. Later they built on Main Street just south of the old Traders and Farmers Bank. A First National Bank was opened three doors south of the Tennessee Valley Bank and was operated only a short time before closing.
The first theater in Haleyville must have been the one operated by Dallas Pattie, a watch repair man, at the site occupied now by Beasley Furniture Company. It had a small stage and sometimes had a stage show mostly local talent but sometimes traveling troupes. The pictures were all silent and between change of reels took what seemed like 10 to 15 minutes. Next Opha Suggs operated one at the corner of 9th Avenue and Ward Alley on the former First Baptist Building. That was about 1916 on for a few years. Then it moved across the railroad just south of the Cleere Hotel and was run by Johnny McCullar. Later the John Lakeman’s operated one at what is now Lehman Furniture Company. There was also a picture show operated for a time in the old schoolhouse where Alabama Power Company’s office now is. Later Mr. Lewis Willis ran a furniture store in this old schoolhouse.
Aside from the Cleere Hotel, which was a two or three story wooden building where the brick building now still remains was the Mineral Springs Hotel. It was built by Mr. Bowden (I don’t recall his initials). It was used to accommodate railroad men at the coming of the I.C. Railroad. Also others come from far and near to drink the mineral water from the spring that I’m sure still runs. It was thought the water was good for their health. A Mr. Chenault built a two-story wooden building on the Southeast corner of 19th Street and 9th Avenue. It accommodated various kinds of travelers and workers of the poorer and lower paid workers. Someone once started a song by word of mouth about it. I can remember some of the tune and words now. The Cleere was of course operated by Mr. And Mrs. W. H. Cleere. In those days traveling salesmen went by train and shipped their baggage by train. I’ve seen large trunks with their samples of various wares such as shoes, clothes, etc., unloaded and hauled to the Cleere house. The hotel had a baggage room to store the trunk in. Transportation of the trunks were furnished by one horse dray wagons. Coleman Long and Carl Cash were two of the men in the dray wagon business. They were kept busy hauling trunks as well as other items, such as goods, to the stores shipped in by freight trains. I worked some as a boy for Coleman Long helping his son Hubert handle this freight. The Cleere Hotel had an old Negro that I believe was once a slave or son of a slave named Albert. He drove what was called a "hack" with seats on each side inside a kind of cloth or oil cloth covering to keep out the wind and rain. It was drawn by a horse. Albert transferred the salesmen as there were no autos then. He met all the trains. As a small boy I used to catch on and ride with him when he was not crowded.
As a boy I always lived in Haleyville, although I worked lots of the farms for my grandfather and uncles. I have worked all summer or a few months at various times and sometimes I would pick cotton in the fall for so much per hundred pounds. I never worked a whole year's crop at one stretch but have helped in farm work at various parts of the season to get some knowledge of growing something. My father always had a vegetable garden until he got crippled about 1918 and I helped him with the garden. The principal money crop once was cotton. Cotton was first grown in this area on bottom land for home use as there were no gins. It was hand picked from the seeds, spun by hand powered spinning wheels, and woven or knitted by hand or homemade devices. Later the uplands were cleared and tended and gins made their appearance. The first one I remember was where Albright’s new store now is. My grandfather Little worked there. The cotton was baled and hauled to market, which was in the city square near the railroad. There the buyers sampled and bid on the cotton. The seeds were taken home for use as feed after enough was put aside for next year’s crop. The cotton was shipped by boxcar on the railroads. Corn was raised mostly for use at home and for feed for stock. Hogs were raised and were fattened on corn before slaughter. Everyone on the farm then put away all kinds of fruit, vegetables, etc., and cured and smoked their meat. In the spring, the farmers hewed CrossTies for railroad use out of Virgin Oak, Pine, and other wood. The ties were hauled to Haleyville by oxen or mules and Haleyville became quite a crests market. I’ve seen them stacked in every available space on the railroad property and in private yards. I remember several of the tie buyers: Bill Mayhall, Whit Massey, Monroe Moody, Hugh Albright, and many others. Oscar Drake was one of the principal cotton buyers and got market quotations by telegraph wire. The Teague brothers opened a cotton office and had a regular operator to copy the market quotations. I myself learned telegraphy and copied some of them. W.D. Fields and numerous others were active cotton buyers at different times. The Teague brothers also had a stock market board with wire connections to New York Wall Street.
This subject takes in a large field that is hard to remember. I don’t recall many early industries except small ones until the cotton mill built in Haleyville. I don’t remember what year it came along, but it employed several workers for years. It was shut down during the Great Depression partly by dull sales and some labor trouble. Later when business began to pick up it was bought by the present owners or a subsidiary. Maybe it changed owners two or three times until it finally became Haleyville Textile Corp. The buildings were completely remodeled and added to with new machinery throughout. They have also built a new plant near Highway 5 [now 13] on 10th Avenue. There are many people employed, mostly women, that are expert seamstresses. Lumber has been an important industry over the years for Haleyville especially during and after World War I. Many small sawmills were scattered over the country. Planing mills were added to finish the rough lumber. Many truckers worked in and out of Haleyville during and after the war hauling the lumber north to wholesalers, retailers, and contractors. L.C. Fuller Sr., one of the first haulers then his sons L.C., Jr., Joe, and Richard followed him in the lumber trade and have since developed a large nationwide service. L.C. Fuller Jr., killed in an airplane accident along with his wife in 1963. There is still much activity in the lumber business, but most of it is hauled from south Alabama and handled through the offices in Haleyville. The mobile home industry is now the leading industry in and around Haleyville. Frontier started a plant with aid of city sponsorship and local merchants who bought bonds to help build a plant. Other companies have since located, along with many subsidiaries and supply plants. Haleyville now enjoys one of the largest payrolls from the mobile home industry in the Southeast. Many people are employed in building and delivering homes to many parts of the nation. There are numerous small industries attached to the mobile home trade and employ many people. Chicken raising has been and still is an important source of employment in and around Haleyville. Some people have full-time employment keeping and raising chickens, others supplying feed and catching and marketing the produce. Marshall Durbin is one of the larger raisers and processing them. They have a ten story feed mill on the spot where the Illinois Central Railroad roundhouse once stood. They also have a hatchery near Highway 5 [now 13] south of Imperial Inn. Also they have a large truck repair garage east of Delmar.
Funeral Services and Funeral Homes:
The first funeral service I remember in Haleyville was a hearse operated by Dozier-Webb, later Owens. This was in the original Haley building that later burned. The upstairs extended the length and width of the original building. Only the front half of the upstairs was rebuilt. Webb-Owens kept some funeral supplies upstairs but had other storage facilities for the coffins used at that time. I remember one funeral, that of a Mr. Kyle who lived where Crestview Home now stands. At his death, Mr. Webb came with the hearse pulled by a horse or maybe two horses to pick him up. The old school ground lay just south of the Kyle home and in turning around on the fifth wheel of the hearse, Mr. Webb had the misfortune of turning the hearse and losing the sight of an eye in the accident. One of the funeral homes I remember was at the corner of 19th Street and 10th Avenue on the lot now used for parking for Piggly Wiggly. It was an old residence where Mr. and Mrs. Ben Smith Sr., raised their sons Earl and Ben Jr., were football stars at Alabama. Earl was captain at Alabama when Ben Jr., a freshman. Leon Long also was a freshman then. They both played in the Rose Bowl (as did Earl in his sophomore year). Mr. J. R. Dozier who lived on 10th Avenue operated the funeral home. Mr. Dozier was once mayor of Haleyville and an active layman in the small brick Presbyterian Church now torn down by the Urban Renewal. Mr. B. J. Cowart bought this old funeral home and later tore it down. The next funeral home was operated by J. R. (Red) Nichols at the opposite side of the same block on 11th Avenue, then later moved to a building that L.C. Fuller Sr. constructed north of 21st Street on 11th Avenue. The building still stands at this writing. I believe the Urban Renewal will tear it down soon. Mr. Nichols built the new modern home on 11th Avenue that is still in use at this time.
The Church of Christ first built (to my memory) near the Mineral Springs Hotel on 16th Street. Then they built a brick building just behind the Haley building on 9th Avenue where the professional building stands, next to the present day building. The first Southern Methodist Church had a wooden building at the same site where their present church stands. The Northern Methodist built where Hillcrest Cemetery now is. Later they merged with the Southern Methodist. The first Presbyterian Church I remember was on 19th Street, a brick building that was torn down just across from Piggly Wiggly. The Nazarene built a church near the old Durk Pickard Mill across from the New Dobbs Ford Company. They hold their baptisms close by in the Pickard Mill pond. The Baptists built a frame building where the present church now stands. Later they moved to a frame building on the corner of 9th Avenue and 20th Place, north of the professional building. In 1915 the present building was first built on the site of the original church. First the old sanctuary was built. The first addition was built at the rear during the Depression. W. T. Mims was pastor at that time. Bro. Huff served when the sanctuary was built. Next the educational building was finished and at present a new $400,000 sanctuary and administration building is under construction (in 1973).
There are several small cemeteries within the city limits or close about. One is the one at (Davis) Miller Stand aforementioned, one near Highway 129 at 15th Avenue, another near the I.C. Railroad west of Haleyville, and near the second overhead bridge (Burnett). I’m sure there are others. The only large cemetery within the city limits is Highland Cemetery, a block east of City Hall. My father and mother are buried there; also two brothers, a nephew, and three uncles all on the same plot. I remember a tomb that stood up against the old Northern Methodist Church that was a Mrs. Owsley. She must have been buried around the turn of the century. The tomb was built of stone and rounded off over the top and cemented. I’ve been told her husband used to come from the country home east of Haleyville with water and a dipper and poured it on her tomb and asked if she wanted a drink. One gravestone that took my eye when a boy was Mr. Pelfrey’s, a Woodmen of the World member. He fell from Brush Creek trestle while it was under construction to his death. Winston Memorial now has a large modern cemetery four miles east of Haleyville on Highway 195. Also many people from town are buried in Littleville Cemetery three and a half miles out on 195. My dear wife is buried there. New Prospect Cemetery about two miles out near 195 also has many graves of Haleyville people. This cemetery is about the oldest large cemetery. There are some old graves here said to be slaves before the Civil War.
The North Alabama Railroad (now Southern Railroad) was built through Haleyville sometime in the 1890s I understand, and it originally went to Delmar to haul the coal that was mined there. The engines were turned by backing around just south of Delmar. There were four or five stores there at that time. My father and grandfather went there by wagon from near Macedonia Church to trade. Mr. Gamble and sons ran a store there that I remember in the teens of 1900. Later Opie and Will moved their families to Haleyville. Later the railroad built on to Jasper and Parrish to connect to the Southern to Birmingham. Then in 1908 the Illinois Central Railroad built into Haleyville and connected to the Southern. That was when Haleyville began to grow. It was called Davis Crossroads up until it was changed somewhere in the early 1900s . I remember the I.C. Railroad coming into Haleyville. Before it was completed the I.C. had a connection to the Southern (Northern Alabama) near Flat Creek. The freight crews worked both ways out of Haleyville north to Jackson, Tennessee and south to Birmingham. The passenger crews ran through from Jackson to Birmingham. A small passenger train ran from Haleyville to Corinth and back daily, and the Seminole Limited originated in Chicago and carried winter tourists to Florida. The Seminole operated 46 years and was taken off just a few years ago. The City of Miami train was later abolished and consolidated with Am-Track that now runs through Cullman on the L & N. In 1911 the I.C. Railroad shopmen had labor trouble and walked out only to lose the strike. Later on in 1922 they struck again and also lost that strike. Mr. Sisson and Bro. George came from Paducah to work at the shop, and Mr. Sisson became shop foreman taking over from Mr. W.H. Wright and staying until the shop closed. Mr. Sisson lived where Haleyville Laundry operates. I remember Mr. Sisson grew lots of pretty flowers along the dirt sidewalk on 19th Street. Along in early 1922, and during the shopmen strike, the coal miners in Illinois had a strike. Some of the Northern Railroads and others industries had to turn to Alabama for coal. The I.C. began to haul it. Haleyville was the scene of many borrowed trainmen, trackmen, switchmen, and others. Many of them were new men hired here in Haleyville by railroad officials. I myself hired and worked a short time as caller of crews. Just about all the boarding places were stayed in private homes. Everything around the I.C. was crowded. The shops and roundhouse were full of engines, cars, and workers. The railroad yards were full of cars. Three switch engines worked at eight-hour intervals. There was a day and a night yardmaster that looked after the operation of the yard. The depot was full of clerks and callers. I remember the number of clerks was thirteen at one time. New tracks were built by trackmen. I recall the old car repair shop between the depot and block office on the west side of the track was torn down and a new one built on the old rip tracks south of the block office. This performance was accomplished with the aid of a derrick and two new tracks were built through the yard within a matter of a week or less. There were one hundred track laborers working at one time.
Fairs and Shows:
When as a boy I remember the shows that traveled from town to town. Some came by wagon and some by train in the early days, later by auto. One of the early circuses was the Mighty Hagg. We kids used to go to the trestle near Highway 5 over the I.C. Railroad and watch it come in. It showed usually at the old ballpark where a mobile home manufactory now operates. The elephants walked all the way. They were very particular about crossing the bridge. Sometimes the large, closed-in wagons that were drawn by mules and horses would bog down in soft ground in wet weather, and the elephants would be used to push and help get them out. Sun Bros. Circus was about the largest circus that ever came to Haleyville. It showed about where 18th Street now goes through from 11th Avenue to 12th Avenue in a large cow pastor. There were nearly always two or three street fairs that came to Haleyville each year. One of the first I remember showed on Main Street, setting up along about where the old City Hall stood. They used streets which was only dirt and sand as a midway and pitched their tents on vacant lots along each side of the street leaving room for wagons to travel through. The traffic was not very heavy and usually went around some other way. The shows would open in the afternoon and would get going full blast about night. Lanterns fed with kerosene furnished the lights. They also had mantle lights that operated by air being pumped by hand that made a brilliant light. In those days the street fairs had Negro Minstrels and a variety of shows such as animal acts, dancing, and other shows, along with several concession booths and rides. For several years, Haleyville held a county fair in the fall of the year, and these street fairs would be part of it. All kinds of farm products were brought in from the farms around and displayed as it is now done at the Alabama State Fair annually. At first a tent was set up for display of all kinds of things to eat. Wooden pens were built for stock and hogs. Later, buildings were built to house the different booths. Many different displays of cloth garments, quilts, spreads, and needle work was shown to visitors free. Later, plank fences were built, and a gate fee was charged to off set expenses. Prizes were given for displays. A pamphlet was issued listing prizes such as first, second, third, etc. Ribbons of blue, red, etc. were attached to winning exhibits. The fairs were held for several years on a lot surrounding the old two-story schoolhouse on 20th Street and 10th Avenue. The building housed the various exhibits of farm products and others while the livestock was discontinued eventually altogether. The shows surrounded the building and completely blocked 10th Avenue from 20th Street to 19th and also 19th from 10th Avenue for a half block. There were other shows that visited the town such as Negro Minstrels, stage shows, and others. Georgia Minstrels were an all Negro show and had a large parade before showing. They usually stayed a week before moving on. The stage shows did likewise while the circus only stayed one day for two performances. By the time the show was over, at night, some of it had already torn down and moved on to the next town. I remember a street fair once setting up along on 9th Avenue just south of Main Street using the street for a midway and the vacant lot behind the stores for show grounds. To the rear of the present Traders and Farmers Bank, they had a "Calamity Janes" dance hall. They had a long tent with a floor and some kind of band or orchestra. The boys from around the area really took this show in. Another show I remember was a wild west show that put up a tent arena where the professional building now stands. They featured real cowboys and Indians right out of the west. I remember during one of the street fairs they had as a feature, a horse race on Main Street. Dave Sutherland and George Stephens had a fine race horse each. They raced hitched to a two-wheel carriage. The street was cleared of all vehicles. The street was still just dirt. They started near the railroad tracks and ended at 10th Avenue. I believe George Stephens won the race. It was quite an attraction to the crowd standing on the sidewalks.
Some of the more prominent families as I remember were the Haley’s, Drake’s, Cleere’s, Drewery’s, Howell’s, and many others. The Haley’s once lived near the Southern Railroad at the present corner of Alabama Avenue and 16th Street. The old home still stands. I remember the picket fence on two sides of the yard or maybe it reached all around. I would walk by and run my hand along the picket fence which in itself was quite a beautiful thing to me. The Drake’s had a general store and the original building still stands on 19th Street and 8th Avenue. They handled just about everything anyone needed such as farm tools of all kinds, clothing, groceries, and hardware. I remember the late Oscar as a young man working there for his dad and later became one of the most active civil and church workers of Haleyville, contributing his time and energy as well as money. He was instrumental in acquiring many valuable assets to the town. The Cleere’s operated the Cleere Hotel and Mr. Will Cleere was postmaster a long time at what is now part of Burleson’s Department Store. The Drewery’s once lived across the I.C. Railroad on 21st Street. I just knew them when they lived on 9th Avenue near the Haley home south of the First Methodist Church, and Muris Drewery lived across from the church site. That was when the old Methodist Church stood where the present day church now is built. Later, Arthur Drewery built the fine brick home that is now the Hollis Miller home. The Drewery’s operated a large mercantile business in a large wooden building where Elmore’s once stood but later burned. Dr. Howell’s old home stood where Rayburn’s Furniture Company now does a large business. His office stood on the alley next to the Haleyville Library. He had a large grape vineyard between the office and home on Main Street. He later had to fence the vineyard off from the street to keep people from helping themselves to the fine grapes he raised. The Moore’s and Shipman’s also were well known families. The Moore’s built a nice brick home just north of the Methodist Church that later burned. John Dodd and the Sparks’ families also were well known in that day, and Rufus now lives in a fine brick home at the site of his granddad John Dodd. Dr. Wood built the home where Guy Ray and family live. Dr. Wood set out and tended a large peach orchard that covered several acres in east Haleyville and had a camery near the spot of our present football stadium. There were many more families too numerous to mention that had a part in founding Haleyville, many of them coming from east Alabama and from Georgia and the Carolinas. The Lakeman’s came from England and settled at Ashridge, later moving to Haleyville. There were many more prominent families that contributed to Haleyville’s growth, namely Wilson’s, Blalock’s, Walker’s, Barber’s, and many more. After the I.C. Railroad started building a connecting line to the Southern (Northern Alabama) Railroad at the block office, many more people moved to Haleyville, and there was quite a boom on from about 1906 for several years. Many of the families still remain or their descendants. Some of them still work for the railroad. Also, several people moved from the Valley (Mt. Hope); the Robinson’s being one well-known ancestry. Many of their descendants are still in Haleyville. I grew up and mixed with many of these people all my years. I did work at different trades for them but mostly painting. Everybody knew everybody in town that time. If a new person come in, he would be known to all soon, regardless of what kind of person he turned out to be. Some of the early families were the Blanton’s, Mayhall’s, Carruths’, Curtis’, George Crosswhite, Wilson’s, Jackson’s, McRae’s, Sutherland’s, Webb’s, Owens’, Feldman’s, Israels’, Williams’, Sparks’, Doris’, Haley’s, Howell’s, Patterson’s, Drake’s, Blalock’s, Dodd’s, Drewery’s, Stephens’, Lovelady’s, Shipman’s, Moore’s, Strange’s, and Hurley’s.